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My Five-Year Genealogy Goals

I'm carrying on my mother's research into our family history. I've self-published some family memoirs & learned a lot about different eras.


Why You Need a Five-Year Genealogy Plan

Working on your family history seems like a never-ending task. Setting some goals and spreading it out over a five-year plan makes it less overwhelming. Creating that plan gets you to sort out in your mind what's important and needs to be done now.

It also lets you put some things off for a few years which relieves the stressful feeling of having too much to do. It's important to realize that if you don't plan for the preservation of your genealogy work, it might all go to waste after your death.

My Plan to Continue Collecting Family Information

Year One

  • Expand my Ancestry subscription to the full-access so I get world info and military records (Fold3).
  • Learn to get the most from my DNA results. Collect information from the trees of my DNA match "cousins."
  • Encourage sharing of pictures and stories in the Facebook cousins groups that I've started.

Year Two

  • Contact descendants as I find out their contact information. Ask questions to clarify research or gaps from my online work.
  • Visit at least one ancestral area each year (Choose one: Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Ireland, or England).
  • Plan a trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana with my sister for research at the library there.

Year Three

  • Visit an ancestral location.
  • Take a packaged trip to Salt Lake City.

Year Four

  • Visit an ancestral location.

Year Five

  • Visit an ancestral location.

My Plan to Continue Writing About My Childhood

Family history isn't just things that happened a hundred years ago. We need to preserve our own memories. Now, that I'm almost 70, I realize that my childhood memories qualify as vintage. Think about how much has changed in the last 70 years. Think about how much is lost if you don't take the time to preserve those.

Year One

  • Write at least one essay a month about memories of my childhood. Post them on my mother's memory blog.

Year Two

  • Collect those and earlier essays into a self-published book using Blurb.

My Plan to Prepare the Family Papers to Pass to Another Generation

I read some advice about organizing your files at work or in an organization, so the next person taking it on won't have a mess to deal with. I need to apply this thinking to my genealogy work. After inheriting mom's 25 boxes of family history, photos, and writings, I haven't applied myself to winnow it down. I know that I must do that, as none of my nieces and nephews will be able to take on that volume of stuff. They are in their 30s and 40s, raising families, and working at challenging jobs. Their interest in tackling the family history is fairly dormant at this stage in their lives. Their lives are full and so are their houses. Where would they even put it all? I owe it to my family to take good care of the family archives and think of future generations.

My Genealogy Work Space

The cabinets hide the amount of family history stored in this room It needs to be thinned down to a more compact amount.

The cabinets hide the amount of family history stored in this room It needs to be thinned down to a more compact amount.

Goals for Passing on the Family Archives

Year One

  • Raise interest among the next generation by posting regularly on the family history blog.
  • Disperse some peripheral parts of the family archive to second cousins and other descendants. (Send photos, letters, etc. to the direct descendants.)
  • Send some research and photos to local history museums. (There are papers and photos from great-aunts/uncles who had no descendants.)
  • Remove non-family research from the files. (My mother collected lots of information for future articles, but these are not directly family-related.)

Year Two

  • Digitize and back-up the photos and family stories.
  • Write a genealogical will.
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Year Three

  • Recruit nieces and nephews to learn genealogy techniques
  • Continue digitizing the photos.
  • Scan in my mother's notes and stories.

Year Four

  • Put information about various family lines in book form.
  • Distribute those books to historical libraries and family members to ensure the preservation of the information.

An Example of the Family Books I'm Making


Additiional Projects to Fit in Somewhere

  • A genealogy blogger talked about creating a medical ancestor chart. What a great idea. For each generation, she listed the name of the ancestor, the age at which they died, and the cause of death. I already know that my parents and grandparents died of heart-related problems. I should chart it out and see what I find.
  • Another blogger created a legacy chart with the number of possible ancestors for each generation, then listed the number that she had found information on already. Did you know that by the time you get to your 7 x great-grandparents, that you are looking for 512 people?

Ideas for Your Own Genealogy Goals

  • I will organize the accumulated research papers and files.
  • I will organize the photos.
  • I will write short essays with some of my family history.
  • I will publish a genealogy or family history book or article.
  • I will share genealogical information with other members of my family.
  • I will share family stories with younger generations of my family.
  • I will write down my own childhood memories to preserve.
  • I will encourage others in the family to contribute their stories.
  • I will seek out new relatives.
  • I will share family photographs and/or movies.
  • I will join a genealogical society.
  • I will attend a genealogical education program or a conference.
  • I will take a research trip to a library or archive I have been meaning to visit.
  • I will take a research trip to an area where my ancestors lived.
  • I will take a DNA test for genealogical purposes.
  • I will learn about new online resources and try them out.

(inspired by questions from NEGS)

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Virginia Allain


Jo Miller from Tennessee on July 13, 2018:

I have done very little research about my family tree but have benefited from the research of others. This is a project, however, I would like to become more involved in. So my plan would probably be to 'start' this year.

kimbesa from USA on June 18, 2018:

Thank you for this article! I've been thinking about picking up genealogy again, after many years of leaving it lay in boxes.

Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on June 16, 2018:

Virginia, this topic is near and dear to me. I am lucky enough to work in a unique repository of early Arkansas history and genealogy. Excellent suggestions.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 15, 2018:

What a great idea, to have a 5-year plan to do your genealogy. You can easily measure your performance and will be encouraged to go on. I also like the idea of writing about your life. I am sure your family will treasure it.

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